Houses on a slope

Houses on a slope are already such a specialty of ours.

Sloping land – good lesson

Many of our projects have one common denominator.

It is the slope of the land. Houses on a slope are already such a specialty of ours.

It’s amusing to us at times how a significant portion of our project plots are situated on slopes, often quite steep ones. Nevertheless, it serves as a valuable learning experience for us in the realm of working with context.

When the client already has a significant elevation on the plot, we try to make the most of it.

What benefits and challenges does this default scenario present? In this article, we’ll explore these aspects step by step. Before delving into the details, let’s begin by clarifying what we mean by a ‘slope’ in this context.

A gentle slope is often a must

Slope and elevation

As a slope, we take any inclined plane, i.e. terrain that has a certain elevation.

For example, for a rainwater treatment pipe to work properly, its slope must be at least 1%. This means that one hundredth of a meter (1 cm) is exceeded in one length meter. Likewise, a roof is “flat” only if its slope is up to 5° (which is 8.75%).

But the gentle slope is not what we are going to talk about now.

Practical Generosity of Slopes:

In our projects, we encounter slopes that are generously steep. At times, the elevation within a plot exceeds 20 meters, even when the plot itself is only 60 meters long. This translates to a slope of approximately 40% (22.5°).

What does this generosity entail in practical terms? It means that for every meter of distance, the terrain ascends by 40 centimeters. Consider a building with a width of 15 meters, oriented perpendicular to the slope — the elevation gain in this scenario would be a substantial 6 meters, equivalent to roughly two floors.

Project documentation of a sloping plot

Slope terrain can be an advantage

The sloping terrain presents numerous opportunities to capitalize on this unique situation, and modern houses frequently leverage it to their advantage.

One practical approach is to design the floor plan in such a way that a portion of the house is nestled beneath the natural terrain.

This concept is exemplified in structures like the villa in Jinonice or the ensemble in Sulice.

Project documentation of a sloping plot

These luxury houses have two floors, one of which is above ground level and the other below. This offers a view from both floors down the slope, usually into the valley.

You can add a terrace, a walkable roof, glass railings to the view and everything is ready.

The lower floor can have access to the garden in the form of a HS portal and a generous terrace.

Two-story house

Even a luxurious new building blends in with the horizon

From the other side, where only one floor peeks out above the ground, the villa seems very decent. The entire building looks like a one-story modern house, next to the entrance there can be an entrance to the garage, and the whole solution is thus very compact. Neighbors are also happy, who then do not hinder the project and everything is built much faster. The house does not obstruct their view, as the new building blends in with the horizon of the surrounding landscape.

One-story modern house

And what are the pitfalls of a house with a sloping plot?

The slope brings additional costs

Such a typical pitfall is that the further the house moves up the slope, the greater the slope under the house. Unfortunately, in order for the entire layout to fit where it should, we sometimes have to place the house like this.

However, this entails additional costs. This is because the garden under the building needs to be divided in height, a retaining wall or a system of terraces must often be added, and the slope under the house must be further subdivided in order for it to be of any use to the owners.

The hill is not always fun

The hill is fun especially on a mountain hike. In the garden, where you want to set up a sitting area with a barbecue, relax on a blanket or play footbal, a flat surface is more suitable.

Therefore, medium slopes are ideal, when the elevation on the site of the house is just enough to overcome one, maximum two floors in height. Such an elevation can be put to good use in a luxury house.

Access to the object is also an essential factor

Access to the house from above is an advantage

In the competition project of the park along the walls in Horská Street, we had to place a restaurant, but at the same time respect vertical permeability and public multifunctional space. In the end, we fought heroically with the assignment, and as a result, a restaurant with a perfect view of Vyšehrad and a quiet front garden was created. The supply access was granted from above not from under the building, because the neighboring streets offer more generous options there.

Project documentation

Access from below requires an imaginative solution

If the entrance is from below the property, things get a little more complicated.

When the garage is below ground level and the exit is at road level, parking near the house is convenient. But the problem arises on the way from the car to the object. There is an option where a staircase leads from the underground garage to the garden. The owner then has to overcome a few meters from the garage to the entrance. In general, this sounds like a small thing, but it slightly reduces comfort. Especially compared to the possibility to park basically directly in the building.

Another possibility is that the staircase exits in such a way that it can lead all the way inside the house. The solution is then a bit more merciful towards the inhabitants, especially in the rain, for example. An example for us can be a modern house in Prague’s Troja, where the entrance from the street offers an entrance from below.

Project documentation of a house on a slope

Challenging Yet Rewarding House Projects.

A golden rule? Be careful!

Sloped plots are highly unique, demanding a tailored approach for each. There’s no universal guide on navigating slopes, perhaps with the exception of the mantra “be careful!”

Modern houses that justify the effort.

Indeed, these projects are often intricate and challenging. Addressing a slope requires more time and complexity compared to working with flat terrain, from various perspectives.

However, the outcome is typically worthwhile. The result is a creation that stands out for its both functional and aesthetic appeal.”


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